Astron Energy, a South African refinery company, faces criticism following a recent product spill from their Milnerton Refinery that leaked into Table Bay waterways, affecting local birds and wildlife. Environmental groups and community members are frustrated with Astron’s response to the spill, with concerns raised about the fall’s extent and the booms’ effectiveness.
Inadequate response to the spill
Caroline Marx, a member of the Facebook group ReThinkTheStink, expressed concern that the booms were insufficient and that the cracks were negatively impacting the Table Bay Nature Reserve. One member of ReThinkTheStink posted a picture of two sandbags crammed into a storm sewer to criticize Astron’s response to the spill. The group also filmed the area to demonstrate the aftermath of the discharge.
Astron Energy has issued a statement stating they are doing everything possible to prevent further harm to the delicate ecosystem. The company has completed the remediation and continues to monitor the area where the leak occurred. In addition, an external specialist has been engaged to assist with any additional remediation activities related to the residual diesel in the conservation area.
Impact on the local birdlife
The spill has had a devastating impact on the local birdlife, with several birds dying as a result of exposure to diesel fuel. SANCCOB, a South African organization dedicated to conserving coastal birds, has been working to rescue and rehabilitate affected wildlife. “Diesel fuel has been proven to be fatal to water birds and seabirds due to the toxic nature of the product,” said Nicky Stander, head of conservation at SANCCOB.
Concerns about the remediation of impacted waterways
The remediation of polluted waterways is also a concern, as diesel discharged in the ocean can disperse rapidly due to wave and wind action, whereas these waterways have relatively low flow. In addition, the diesel product contains hydrocarbons that are detrimental to aquatic species that rely on these habitats, and there is a danger that diesel will enter the reed and soil systems.
The importance of responsible and sustainable practices in the petroleum industry
The incident emphasizes the significance of responsible and sustainable practices in the petroleum industry and the need for increased transparency and accountability in the event of a spill. There is still much work to be done to safeguard the local environment and wildlife from the effects of industrial activities as the community continues to deal with the aftermath of the incident.